Review: Blood Wedding (Modern Times Stage Company and Aluna Theatre)

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Toronto’s Aluna Theatre presents a touching story of forbidden desire

Modern Times Stage Company and Aluna Theatre‘s production of Blood Wedding, currently onstage at Buddies and Bad Times Theatre, is poetry embodied onstage. The script is written by Federico García Lorca, translated by Langston Hughes, both poets, so I expected the dialogue to be lyrical. But the direction, design and acting were also perfectly integrated into a poetic aesthetic. The show is raw emotional power delivered with polished precision.

The Boy (Derek Kwan) loves the Girl (Bahareh Yaraghi) and the Girl loves the Boy a bit, but she burns with passion for her ex, Leonardo (Carlos Gonzalez-Vio). Leonardo married her cousin (Sochi Fried) out of spite and pride but still desires the Girl. The Mother (Beatriz Pizano) of the Boy is wary of the Girl because Leonardo is of the same family that killed her husband and other son, but she also wants her remaining son to be married and give her many grandchildren. And so the wedding is on but, as the title telegraphs, it will not be a happy event.

This story of forbidden desire is given extra depth by knowing that Lorca (as well as Hughes) was gay and likely writing out his demons in a heterosexual framing that would be acceptable to the audience of his time. However, in his time there were also more rigid gender roles than today (not that we live in a feminist utopia) and the focus he has on the plight of women is important itself. Blood Wedding ruminates on forces bigger than the individual that affect personal choices, including societal factors like patriarchy — but also the metaphysical.

About two thirds of the way through the play, the Moon (Sochi Fried again) and Death (Liz Peterson) become characters. My companion was a bit confused by this: she wasn’t clear on who they were or why they were there. This is, I think, probably a usual reaction for someone steeped in modern narratives that are either surreal from the beginning, or there’s a trajectory toward it, or it’s just not there at all. The Moon and Death did appear out of left field but I’m more used to that sort of thing, having seen a lot of classical theatre and opera. Scenographer Trevor Schwellnus’s design is gorgeous and lush throughout, and he brilliantly capitalized on the sudden appearance of the Moon in an arresting moment. It was like a golden pin in the velvet fabric of the piece, holding it in an odd spot but adding beauty both with its existence and the pattern it created.

The ensemble cast worked like a well-oiled machine, if a machine could rip its emotional guts out and spill them all over the stage. Every element that makes up a play was firmly in hand (that hand belonging to director Soheil Parsa) and devoted to the soul of Lorca’s script, as translated by Hughes.

Details:

  • Blood Wedding Plays at Buddies And Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St, until March 29th
  • Showtimes are Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00pm, Wednesday & Sunday at 2:00pm
  • Tickets are $20 to $25, $18 for students and actors in Equity, with Pay What You Can on Sunday matinees and $18
  • Purchase tickets online or by calling 416-975-855

Photo of Jani Lauzon, Bahareh Yaraghi, Carlos Gonzalez-Vio by Brian Damude